Pluribus AM: Ed proposals advance in MO, FL, UT; ND, UT move transgender bills; fighting fires with AI
Good morning, it’s Friday, Jan. 27. 2023. In today’s edition, education proposals advance in Mo., Fla.; N.D., Utah move transgender bills; Colo. wants to use AI to fight forest fires:
GEORGIA: Gov. Brian Kemp (R) has signed an emergency order allowing him to deploy as many as 1,000 National Guard troops following violent unrest in Atlanta. A group of masked demonstrators threw rocks at police in the midst of a broader protest over a plan to build a law enforcement training center in DeKalb County. (Atlanta Journal Constitution)
MISSOURI: The state Senate is likely to take up a Parents’ Bill of Rights next week banning some diversity-based teaching in public schools. The bill bans teaching of critical race theory, though it does not define CRT and no elementary or secondary schools in the state teach the concept. (St. Louis Public Radio)
FLORIDA: A proposal to expand eligibility for school vouchers won approval in the House Choice & Innovation Subcommittee on Thursday. The bill would expand vouchers to families of any K-12 student in the state, at an estimated cost of $4 billion within five years. (Orlando Sentinel)
NORTH DAKOTA: The state House approved a bill barring drag shows from taking place on public property or in the presence of minors. If the measure wins Senate approval, violations would carry a sentence of 360 days in prison and a $3,000 fine. (Fargo Forum) It’s the second anti-drag show bill to pass this week, after a similar measure passed the Arkansas Senate.
UTAH: The state Senate has given final approval to a measure providing $8,000 scholarships to families for private school tuition. The bill also raises teacher pay by $6,000. It now heads to Gov. Spencer Cox (R). (Deseret News) The House approved a bill barring transgender surgeries for children and teens. The Senate will need to approve minor amendments before the bill goes to Cox’s desk. (Deseret News)
MINNESOTA: Gov. Tim Walz (D) has proposed a $3.3 billion public infrastructure package, the largest bonding bill in state history. The package includes $650 million for roads, bridges and water systems, half a billion for university facilities and $470 million for affordable housing. (Associated Press) The state House passed a bill requiring state utilities to shift to carbon-free electricity by 2040. (Fargo Forum)
MICHIGAN: The state Senate has given approval to nearly $1 billion in tax cuts, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit and ending taxes on retirement income for seniors. The House has already passed a version with minor differences. The cuts are one of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) top priorities. (Detroit News)
CONNECTICUT: Gov. Ned Lamont (D) has rolled out a plan to reinforce a ban on military-style assault weapons, and to raise the minimum age for purchasing a firearm to 21. Lamont’s plan would end an exemption for weapons purchased before 1994. (CTPost)
INDIANA: The state Senate voted Thursday to advance a constitutional amendment expanding the number of reasons why someone could be jailed without bond. Judges would be allowed to hold someone who poses a substantial risk to the public without bond. (Fox News) Senators have introduced bills to criminalize the use of devices like AirTags to track someone without their knowledge. (Indianapolis Star)
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Don’t expect the Granite State to leap on the recreational marijuana train this year. A bill to legalize pot is backed by House Republican Leader Jason Osborne and House Democratic Leader Matt Wilhelm, but Gov. Chris Sununu’s (R) office said this week he doesn’t expect to see a final bill this year. (WMUR)
In Politics & Business
MAINE: Secretary of State Shenna Bellows (D) said this week an initiative to prevent the creation of a publicly-owned power company had qualified for the ballot. The initiative would require consumer-owned utilities to win voter approval to take on more than $1 billion in debt, a response to a proposal that would harm the state’s existing utilities. (WMTW, Portland Press Herald)
Your semi-regular reminder that utilities tend to be the most powerful lobbies in many state legislatures.
LOUISIANA: U.S. Rep. Garret Graves (R) will chair the House Republican Elected Leadership Committee, a possible sign that he’ll skip a gubernatorial campaign this year. (Baton Rouge Advocate)
ARIZONA: State Democrats will choose a new chair this weekend. Union leader and party vice chair Yolanda Bejarano faces Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo. Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) is behind Gallardo, while other statewide Democrats including Sen. Mark Kelly (D) back Bejarano. (Arizona Republic)
MORE: Arizona Republicans will pick from six candidates running to replace chair Kelli Ward. Ex-state Treasurer Jef DeWit (R), who served as COO of former President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign, and party activist Steve Daniels are seen as front-runners. (Arizona Republic)
By The Numbers
30%: The increase in water deliveries from California’s aqueduct that growers and Southern California cities will receive this month following winter storms that dropped billions of gallons of rain across the state. It’s the highest distribution farmers and cities have received in six years. (CalMatters)
$130 million: The amount Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek (D) has proposed spending to address a growing homelessness crisis. Kotek’s plan would build 600 shelter beds, keep 9,000 families housed and help 1,200 homeless people find shelter, according to details her office released Thursday. (Oregon Capital Chronicle)
$2 million: The amount Colorado legislators have proposed spending on a pilot program to mount cameras on mountaintops in locations at high risk of catastrophic wildfires. The cameras would use artificial intelligence to spot potential blazes before they grow out of control. California, Nevada and Oregon already use cameras to spot fires. (Associated Press)
Off The Wall
The South Dakota Senate has suspended Sen. Julie Frye-Mueller (R) over an apparent exchange she had with a legislative staffer. Details were scant, but Senate Republican Leader Michael Rohl said the vote came after “serious allegations.” (Dakota News Now, Associated Press)
Connecticut lawmakers have once again filed a bill to name pizza the official state food. The bill passed the state House in 2021 before dying in the Senate. (New Haven Register) The word “pizza” appears in the story an impressive 38 times.
Dept. of Unfortunate Timing: Woke Breakfast & Coffee, a new diner in Coventry, Conn., is drawing some uncomfortable looks in the midst of the culture wars. Owner Carmen Quiroga says she doesn’t follow politics and had no idea that her business’s name would cause a fuss. (Boston Globe) Reminds us of the extremely unfortunately named Isis Cafe out in the D.C. suburbs that, a Google search now shows us, is closed.
Quote of the Day
“Some of those legislators are whacky or could do something whacky in the future.”
— Arizona Sen. Warren Petersen (R), in a text message to Doug Logan, who oversaw the partisan audit of 2020 election results in Maricopa County, part of a trove of text messages unearthed by The Arizona Republic that show chaos and infighting between those who spread conspiracy theories about election results. Logan repeatedly posed with visiting legislators from other states who wanted to watch the audit.